From the Archive: Story of a Shepherdess

It always seems such a shame to me that blog posts are written, read by a few people and then “lost” in the archive. One of my favourite archived posts told the story of Alison O’Neill.Way back in 2013, I first wrote about Alison, who is the neighbour of very good friends of ours. Her story fascinated me, and anyone who has spent time with her, been on one of her walks or listened to her talking about her passion for the fells and her animals can’t help but be enchanted. Back then, I shared this short video made by Ian Lawson Films which gives a glimpse into her life. It might be a little bit out of date, but I still think it’s worth watching. I love how the story of the seasons unfolds and for any knitter who loves wool it really is an eye opener. Alison really does make her living farming on the Cumbrian Fells, and she does it with great style! This is no fairy tale, this is a woman driven by her passion for the Cumbrian landscape and a respect for her animals who has built a business which celebrates the landscape and all that is wonderful about British wool and British craft.

Last year, I caught up with Alison at Woolfest, where she was showcasing her fashion range “Shepherdess” and since then I have followed her adventures on instagram and twitter. I continue to be inspired by her and I love her range, which now includes a few special pieces of Herdwick Tweed. Alison’s enthusiasm for the Cumbrian landscape shines through all her designs, and you can see some of them in this short film made by Summit Fever Media.

You can find Alison’s website here and follow her story on Instagram. You can also see her designs for yourself at Woolfest this year (details here) and I’ll be posting lots more information soon.

Finally, Alison isn’t the only woman who has been inspired by the Cumbrian landscape to create with wool. In future posts I’ll be sharing the stories of Daphne Marinopoulos,  who developed The Fibre Co’s Cumbria yarn, Kate, the talented founder of  Oubas Knitwear (who you can also see at Woolfest this year) and finally The ladies of The Wool Clip, based” just up the road” in Caldbeck, this co-operative is the genius team behind Woolfestand I’m ashamed to say I have never written properly  about them on the blog – so that will be rectified very soon!




Free Crochet Patterns (& More to Come)

Button_mitts_medium2Slowly, very slowly I am adding all my free patterns to Granny Cool. It’s a slow process. The new book is at the editing stage (still lots of samples to make). We’ve done a couple of shoots and I’m desperate to share some images with you and tell you about the amazing collaborators who are designing and working with me. Meanwhile, if you click on the images in the right hand sidebar you can find the first of my free patterns. More will be added as and when I can.

Of course I’ve chosen a few of my favourites to start with. I’ve always loved this photo (taken by Britt Spring for Inside Crochet). She makes a simple design look so elegant don’t you think?). I was thrilled when they agreed to let me use this photo to accompany the release of these stylish wrist warmers.

Don’t forget, in between blog posts, you can follow me on twitter and instagram, I’d love it if you came and said hello.


Time to Celebrate

Issue 64 of Inside Crochet is now on sale, as always I cannot choose my favourite project from this issue, Claire Montgomerie’s Aster Wrap is beautiful (I’m loving the colour).

Aster Wrap, photo credit; Lucy Williams for Tailormade Publishing

Can’t you just imagine a summer evening, watching the sun go down with this elegant wrap covering your shoulders?

I’m also thrilled to say that I have a feature in this issue on the subject of crochet celebrations. The set has been beautifully photographed by Leanne Dixon and Claire (the editor) has styled it beautifully.  Along with the patterns for garland, bunting and little heart shaped “cake pops”, you’ll find lots of advice for hosting your own crochet party and tips for getting everyone involved in making a truly handmade celebration. Here’s a few images to get your creative juices going. Look out for Issue 64 in the shops now.

Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo Credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing
Photo Credit: Leanne Dixon for Tailormade Publishing

Granny Cool Loves…

House of Holland Granny Square Scarf

Granny squares – they never go out of style! A few years back House of Holland wowed the catwalk with their amazing granny inspired collection, including a granny square scarf  (the kind most of us crocheters have at least one of). Sarah London (another lover of the granny square wrote this piece about the collection and I’ve noticed several “instagrammers” recently sporting their own interpretation of this classic fashion accessory. Even the fabulous shop Tea and Crafting picked up the story this week!

My own favourite interpretation of the Granny Scarf is Claire Montgomerie’s Granny Square Cowl (which pre dates the House of Holland collection), but is ideal if you’re looking for a pattern to make your own. If you’ve never made a granny square, there are dozens of crochet tutorials online, check out Sarah London for a pattern and lots more inspiration.

Granny Cowl by Claire Montgomerie for Inside Crochet
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